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PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card review

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An exceptional travel rewards card with no annual fee and $100 in air travel credit.

finder.com’s rating: 4.4 / 5.0

★★★★★

  • Get this card if you’re looking for travel rewards and air travel perks with no annual fee.
  • Pick something else if you want cashback rewards.
  • Apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher.

25,000

Points as welcome offer

Up to 4x

Points

$0

Annual fee

12.74% to 17.99%

Purchase APR (variable)

Details

Product NamePenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card
Card typeAmerican Express
Annual fee$0
Purchase APR12.74% to 17.99% variable
Balance transfer APR0% intro for the first 12 months (then 12.74% to 17.99% variable)
Balance transfer fee3%
Cash advance rate12.74% to 17.99% variable
Cash advance fee$5 or 5% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater
Penalty APR17.99% fixed
Foreign transaction feeNone
Interest free periodUp to 25 days
Late payment feeUp to $25
Returned payment feeUp to $25
Additional cardholder fee$0

Expert review

Kliment Dukovski

Review by


Kliment Dukovski is a credit cards writer. He's written over 600 articles to help readers find and compare the best credit cards. Kliment has also written on money transfers, home loans and more. Previously, he ghostwrote guides and articles on foreign exchange, stock market trading and cryptocurrencies.

Expert review

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card is a rare gem among travel rewards cards. With this card, you get some of the premium travel rewards that high-end travel cards offer, such as a $100 Global Entry TSA PreCheck application credit and an annual $100 airline travel credit — all without an annual fee.

This card also earns you valuable points per dollar spent on all travel and everyday purchases, even more if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage member.

The perks

  • Welcome offer.
    Earn 25,000 bonus points — a value of around $250 — after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first 90 days your account is open.
  • Annual air travel credit.
    Get $100 in air travel credit every year. Use it to cover baggage fees, lounge access, flight changes, pet-kennel fees, phone reservations and in-flight food and beverage purchases.
  • Earn points.
    Get 4x points if you’re a PenFed Honors Advantage Member — 3x points if you’re not — on all travel purchases. Get 1.5x points on all other purchases.

Am I eligible for PenFed membership?

In the past, only military-affiliated individuals were eligible for the PenFed membership. Today, anyone can become a member even without military affiliation.

You’ll also like …

  • No foreign transaction fee.
    When you travel abroad, use your card freely without incurring any foreign transaction fees. Other cards charge fees of up to 3% for each transaction.
  • Travel insurance and roadside assistance.
    Get up to $100,000 in travel accident insurance and car rental insurance, as well as 24/7 roadside assistance in case of emergencies.
  • Intro APR period on balance transfers.
    Get a 0% intro APR on balance transfers for 12 months when you make the transfer before March 31, 2020. After that, a variable APR of 12.74% to 17.99% applies. Note that a 3% balance transfer fee applies.

How do I become PenFed Honors Advantage member?

To become a PenFed Honors Advantage member and earn more points on travel purchases, you need to either:

  • Open a checking account. Sign up for the PenFed Access America checking account.
  • Be part of a military family. Enjoy Honors Advantage benefits if you or a member of your family is active duty, reserve, honorably discharged or retired.

How much are PenFed points worth?

The value of PenFed points depends on what you’re redeeming them for. Here’s what they are worth according to the PenFed website as of August 2018:

  • One point redeemed for gift cards is worth 0.85 cents.
  • One point redeemed toward air tickets is worth 0.85 to 0.90 cents.
  • One point redeemed toward a hotel booking is worth up to 1.27 cents.

What to watch out for

  • No intro APR for purchases.
    The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card doesn’t have an intro APR period on purchases. You’ll start with a variable APR of 12.74% to 17.99%.
  • Airline ticket redemption fees.
    When you redeem your points for flights, you’ll pay a $15 fee for online booking or $25 if you book by phone.
  • Balance transfer limitations.
    The intro APR on balance transfers is valid only if you make your transfers by March 31, 2020. Also, for every balance transfer you make, you’ll pay a fee equal to 3% of the transaction. Be sure to note that you’ll need to pay interest on your account balance if you don’t pay it in full each month.
  • High fees and penalties for late payments.
    You’ll pay fees of up to $25 for late payments. If you don’t make the minimum payment within 60 days after its due date, you could be stuck with a penalty APR of 17.99% variable. To remove the penalty APR, you must make three consecutive on-time payments.

Compare travel credit cards

Name Product Welcome offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
30,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months
3x Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, 3x points at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases
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Earn 3x Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, 3x points at restaurants and 1x points on all other purchases. Rates & fees
20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
1.25x miles on all purchases and 10x miles at hotels.com/venture
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a Delta purchase in the same timeframe
2x miles on Delta purchases and 1x miles on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months, plus $50 when you make a direct Delta purchase in the same timeframe. Rates & fees
75,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
7x points on Hilton Honors purchases, 5x at US restaurants, US supermarkets and US gas stations, 3x on all other purchases
$0
Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the card within your first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
2x miles on all purchases and 10x miles at hotels.com/venture
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.

Compare up to 4 providers

What should I know before I apply?

To apply for the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card, you must be:

  • At least 18 years old.
  • A US citizen or permanent resident of the US.
  • A member of the PenFed Credit Union.

Information you’ll need

To complete the application, you’ll provide information that includes:

  • Your name and residential address.
  • Your Social Security number and date of birth.
  • Your email address and phone number.
  • Financial information like your annual income and income source.

What credit score do I need?

You can get the card with a credit score in the low 600s. However, it’s best to apply with a good to excellent credit score of 670 or higher to qualify for the lowest APR and a higher credit limit.

PenFed typically pulls your credit report from Equifax as part of its approval process.

What do customers say about the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card?

The Better Business Bureau rates Pentagon Federal Credit Union an A+. Customers on BBB’s site have left 21 reviews at the time of writing, resulting in a composite score of 3.81 out of 5 stars. Most user complaints cite long wait times on customer support numbers. Other than that, they consider this a solid travel rewards card.

How to apply for the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card?

  1. Go to the provider site and click Apply now.
  2. Select the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card from the list and click Apply Now.
  3. Complete the form with the required information.
  4. Review your application and submit it.

How long will it take to get my PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card?

Because PenFed automates conditional credit card approval online, you may get a decision on your application within minutes. If there are issues with your application, it may take a few days to a few weeks to hear back.

On approval, your card should arrive by mail within 10 business days.

I got the card. Now what?

  • Download the PenFed mobile app. With the app, you can make manual payments, set up autopay, transfer balances and more.
  • Avoid interest. After the close of each billing cycle, you have a grace period of at least 25 days to pay your balance. If you do, you won’t pay interest on your purchases.
  • Enroll in Visa Purchase Alerts. Stay on top of spending and fraud with real-time notification by email or text after each transaction involving your card.
  • Get help. Contact PenFed customer service at 1-800-732-8268 or info@hq.penfed.org with questions.

Bottom line

The PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express® Card is an exceptional travel rewards card that lets you earn points for long-distance travel and everyday commuting by taxi, Uber, bus and more. And the best thing: It costs you nothing to own the card.

Your spending may not exactly align with what this card has to offer, however. Compare your credit card options to find out with different features or categories more relevant to your spending.

Frequently asked questions

Images: PenFed.org

Travel card ratings

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